IAI seeks to boost civil market share with new light “flying limo”

It is another effort to capture a bigger share of the civil market. The move has been expected for some time but now more details have emerged: Israel Aerospace Industries has sets its sights on a market that does not exist but which the company thinks has big potential.

IAI is developing a small executive jet that will offer low-cost travel over ranges of up to 1,300nm (2,400km).

The Israeli company has so far only confirmed that the small jet is designed to carry six passengers and that the basic and operational costs will be low. It is working with an unnamed partner and has so far completed the initial design.

This is the second time that IAI has attempted such a programme. The first was in 2003 when the company signed a co-operation agreement with US company Avocet Aircraft to develop the so-called very light jet.

The twin-engined VLJ was designed for six passengers and to be capable of take-off and landing in as little as 914m (3,000ft). It was intended to fly at an airspeed of 365kt (676km/h) up to an altitude of 41,000ft, with a maximum cruising range of 1,200nm.

In 2005, IAI senior management decided to seek additional partners for the programme, but in December of the same year, it was officially cancelled and the company returned all deposits to position holders.

IAI manufactures the G150 and G280 for Gulfstream but production has slowed down since the onset of the global economic downturn.

The Israeli company has been looking for years for ways to use vast capabilities in designing and manufacturing aircraft that were developed in the 1980s, when IAI produced the Lavi advanced fighter aircraft. The programme was eventually cancelled following heavy pressure from the USA.

Opting for a small executive jet is a bold move as it involves a design that does not exist. IAI and its unnamed partner have evaluated the market and come to the conclusion that there is a demand for such a product.

The company knows that besides performance, the unit and operational costs will determine whether this programme will succeed or not.

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